We all see the world differently. A foodie remembers places based on how excited his tongue felt there. A history buff remembers places depending on its importance in the scheme of politics and civilization in the past. A visual artist remembers the colors of the streets, sun rise, sun sets, patterns and textures peculiar to a place.
Then there are beer lovers. They hardly remember anything, if at all. Their memory is patchy, filled with missing hours and events. Those missing events are generally way too embarrassing to be enquired about. They get excited by availability of cheap beer.
Just like each country has its own flag. Each region has its own cuisine. There is beer, which also defines the existence of a particular community.
Ziro, in Arunachal pradesh, India, is no different.
Their answer to the world of local beer is called, lo and behold, “Apong”
Apong is beer made from rice. It has short shelf life. It is made in almost every home. It is available as cheap Rs. 20 for one liter. It’s the drink of the masses.
Apong comes in various forms, depending on its distillation and taste. The more expensive it gets, the more refined it is, and begins to look clearer, like wine and tastes sweeter.
Rice beer is not only a drink but an integral part of north eastern tribe culture. It is made by women mostly, and acts as an accepted ice breaker between men and women of the community. It is also a part of the marriage customs. Some also believe it to have medicinal properties.
Here is a quick run through on the process of Apong making.
- You need a starter ‘cake’. It is a collection of rice or other grains which is fermented to produce beer.
- Grains are ground with little water and then dried to make the cake.
- Then they are kept in an earthen pot.
- Then the ‘secret medicine’ or yeast is added to initiate fermentation and the earthen pot is closed.
- After 5 days water is filtered through the fermented cake, and what we get below is pure ‘Apong’